Cahill is Australia’s best since Bradman

Zac Standish Roar Pro

By , Zac Standish is a Roar Pro

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    The past hundred years have seen many great Australian heroes don the iconic green and gold and step onto the pitch, field and court to compete for the land down under. As Australian citizens we have been truly blessed to see some amazing athletes compete for us over a wide range of sports.

    From Ricky Ponting to Cathy Freeman and everyone in between, there have been some absolute greats; however, since the legendary career of Sir Donald Bradman in the 1930s and 40s one man has reigned supreme over all else in the green and gold on the world stage. That man is Socceroos legend Tim Cahill.

    Tuesday Night’s World Cup qualification play-off tie against Syria was an excellent example of the legend that is Tim Cahill, as despite being in the twilight of his career at age 37, Cahill played all 120 minutes and scored two vital goals to ensure Australia continued on its road to Russia.

    Tim Cahill has always had a knack for coming up when his country needs him most, with 50 international goals signifying the success this man has had as an international sportsman for Australia.

    This is an extremely subjective topic, with many people holding a number of great Australian sportsmen in such high regard. With such a large number of athletes to choose from, this is a very special title that I believe he’s due for his performances on the world stage.

    Football is traditionally one of Australia’s most popular sports, though it has long sat behind the likes of AFL, cricket, rugby league and rugby union. These sports have all yielded some incredible performers, with many vying for the title of Australia’s greatest international sportsman. With the great Sir Donald Bradman clearly in front of the pack, it is the debate for second that causes a lot of angst, as the likes of Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, David Campese, John Eales, Cathy Freeman and Lauren Jackson have all excelled on the international stage.

    (Image: Matt King/Getty Images)

    However, what I believe sets Cahill apart from these other legends is the nature of the world stage on which his game is played. Although they are extremely popular in Australia, none of the sports in which we are highly ranked are as popular among the majority of the world, with the likes of cricket and rugby played mainly by Commonwealth countries.

    Tim Cahill has had to go up against the very best in the world’s most popular sport and has done so with unbelievable success. Ranked equal 55th in international goals, Cahill has made his name on the biggest stage of all. To put Cahill’s international record in perspective, Netherlands veteran Robin van Persie, who was considered one of best players in the world during his prime, has scored the same number of goals for his country from 102 caps, one fewer than Cahill. He is also only one goal behind French legend Thierry Henry, who scored 51 goals from 123 international caps.

    To be even comparable to these European legends is incredible and shows just how good Tim Cahill has been for the Socceroos.

    His longevity has been something to marvel, too – Cahill has been the face of the Socceroos for over a decade and has featured in the Australian side for the past three world cups. Although he might not have always been the best player in the team, his presence alone has seen viewed as the most dangerous in any Australian squad.

    Tuesday night’s match against Syria was an excellent example of this, as his ability to make himself dangerous in the box and his experience in big games allowed him to contribute with two massive goals. In a team full of young and up-and-coming stars, like Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, Cahill was the only one who was able to find the back of the net, showing that class has no age restrictions.

    Cahill’s ability to always stand up in big moments has been a big part of his greatness, with many clutch goals at international level helping Australia to some crucial wins. This has been due to his excellent ability to finish his opportunities, particularly by rising up to score thunderous headers.

    (Image: Matt King/Getty Images)

    One of the best examples of a Cahill clutch goal is from the 2014 World Cup – after going 1-0 down to a powerhouse Netherlands side he was able to get on the end of a lofted through-ball and smack home an incredible volley. Although the Socceroos went on to lose that match 3-2, that goal alone lifted the side’s credibility in the tournament and showed that, despite our lowly ranking, Australia are no easy-beats on the world stage.

    Along with his excellent career for Australia, Cahill has also made a name for himself at club level, having scored 56 English Premier League goals with Everton in a period spanning 2004 to 2012. During his time at Everton Cahill was able to establish himself as a household name outside of Australia, from England to the rest of the world. This is something that can’t be said for most other Australian sporting legends, whose success is mainly contained to people within their own countries.

    The final factor that separates Cahill from the rest is just how much better his career has been compared to any other Australian football players. Although the likes of Harry Kewell and Archie Thompson were similar to Cahill in their primes, nobody else has been able to sustain their success like Timmy. Cahill leads Australia’s international goals record by 21 over Damian Mori, who was able to find the net on 29 occasions.

    It is quite clear that Cahill is Australian football’s greatest of all time, which is something that works in his favour when assessing just how good the man has been for his country.

    Tim Cahill has been an extraordinary performer for Australia on the global sporting stage, with his efforts single-handily dragging the Socceroos over the line on a number of occasions. Australia’s greatest sportsman is a very subjective topic, as a number of great athletes have donned the green and gold and delivered our population some brilliant moments. However, outside Sir Donald Bradman, who is clearly our most successful international athlete, Tim Cahill has been our best due to his ability to constantly lift his side and still be a dangerous presence and solid contributor to the Socceroos well into the twilight of his career.